I John 1:5 - 2:8

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God is light – light that shines in darkness. God’s light is true light which gives light to everyone in the world. The light is life. But what does this mean? It isn’t basic physics and optics. No, even John admits that there’s a problem with the darkness. The darkness did not comprehend the light. Those who were given life through the light rejected the true light. What does this mean?

Why all this talk about light and darkness? Why does John have to be so metaphorical and philosophical? Why can’t he just come to his point? Well, John’s gospel after all is a grand epic – an eyewitness spectacular of powers and signs that begins before the beginning and closes with that intriguing little comment about the world not being able to contain all the books that could be written. The gospel is a work of inspiration intended to inspire us to believe.

But the letter is the encouraging front porch conversation of “John the church elder.” He is unpacking for believers what it means for them to put this belief in action. And he knows they have been through some bitter conflict and there’s some hurt, and he intends to address it. So if the gospel is the keynote address sermon, the letter is a classroom talk for those who need to have confidence about eternal life and the practical implication of that eternal life.

Read 1 John 1:5 - Three pairs of statements explain what this means ...

1:6-7 - If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

We don’t often tend to think of life in terms of light vs dark. We don’t see life as two ways. We tend to think of life as a series of one to one transactions. I sin, so I get forgiveness. This is a bogus legalistic system: Every penny on the sin ledger has to be accounted for. I am going to sin, so all I have to do is live long enough to get forgiveness. But what happens if you miss one sin on the ledger? What happens if we die before we get a chance to ask forgiveness? This turns a life of discipleship into a game. Jesus, the true light from God, as shone in such a way that he truly illuminates human life. (Magic shows.) Are we walking in light or darkness? We don’t live in haze. God is light and he purifies us from all sin. If you walk in darkness, you are heading for destruction and you just get further away from the light. If you are walking in light, the blood of Christ is purifying you. God is light and he purifies us from all sin.

Oh, so if we walk in the light then we’re without sin, yes? No that’s not what John is saying. He addresses that next ...

1:8-9 - If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The light of God illuminates the truth about sin in our life – in order to cure and heal. If we claim to be without sin, then we are just as far away from the truth as if we are in darkness but claim to know God. Sin is not forgiven through denial. There is no forgiveness if we continually try to manage our sin or deny it. It only ends up gaining power over us and we fall into self-deception. We dare not ignore our problems and claim we can stop whenever we want. It is a trap. But confession, as tough as it may be, sheds light on the darkness that has trapped us. It exposes the power and casts out the darkness. God is light and he purifies us from all sin.

1:10-2:2 - If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one ...

If we claim we haven’t sinned – that is when we refuse to notice our sin, then we are indeed sinning. We aren’t allowing the word of God to work in us. We are resisting forgiveness. But we are urged to put up a front. Perhaps we think that people cannot be trusted. Perhaps we fear rejection. Perhaps we are afraid of not being in control of the way others perceive us. One of the things that unfortunately prevents people from walking in the light and experiencing the forgiveness of God is the self-righteousness of the people of God. We have to be careful with this.
We may think that walking in the light is prior to this fellowship with Christ and one another. We may think that walking in the light is a precondition or prerequisite to being purified from our sins. But John is in fact saying that the blood of Christ has purified us and his sacrifice gives us the option of walking in the light. Walking in the light is the result of Christ’s sacrifice.
This is what it means to have an advocate. He isn’t defending us from the Father. He is getting us back in relationship with the father – because we were in darkness. Let’s be very clear about the fact that we have a friend in a high place. We have someone who is pulling for us. Our advocate Jesus Christ – he is an inside track to knowing the Father. He didn’t just atone for our sins, he atoned for the sins of the whole world. The problem has been dealt with.

So what does this mean? It means that the light is on and we don’t have to stumble through the darkness.
So what does this mean? It means the path through this life is clearly lit – let’s walk like Christ. Let’s live the life he lived. That’s how we can be sure that we are walking in the light.
So what does this mean? It means we don’t have to manage righteousness the way we manage cash flow always wondering if we have enough income to cover all the expenses! Rather, God is light and in him there is no darkness. If you want to overcome darkness, then start walking in the light – and the blood of Jesus Christ, the righteous one who sits at the Father’s right hand is there for us. He atoned not only for your sins, but the sins of the whole world. I think that He can deal with our sin, right?

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 1 April 2007

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